Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Poliomyelitis in Yemen - update

30 May 2005

On 29 May, the Ministry of Health Yemen confirmed an additional 71 cases, bringing the total number of cases associated with this outbreak to 179. The majority of the new cases are from the same governorate as the index case, Hudaidah governorate, on the Red Sea coast. These additional cases were expected, as a significant increase in acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases had been detected since the start of the outbreak.

The outbreak was reported on 22 April, and the first case had onset of paralysis on 25 February. Currently, 11 governorates are known to be affected by the outbreak.

The rise in cases underlines the urgent need to conduct high-quality immunization campaigns to rapidly boost population immunity levels. As part of this effort, on 29 May the Ministry of Health launched a nationwide immunization campaign, to reach all of the country's children under the age of 5 years with polio vaccine. More than 32,000 vaccinators have been recruited by the Ministry of Health. Between 30 May and 2 June, these vaccinators will go house-to-house to administer polio vaccine to all children under 5 years of age across Yemen. The second round National Immunization Day (NID) will be launched on 11 July.

Yemen has significantly strengthened active AFP surveillance throughout the country to determine the spread of the outbreak, and is implementing appropriate nationwide immunization campaigns to rapidly boost population immunity levels. To support the Ministry of Health, all UN organizations, led by WHO and UNICEF, have joined forces to make these polio campaigns a UN-priority in Yemen.

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